Workers worried that their coworker was in danger alerted the police that she was missing. What authorities found after searching her home can only be described as horrific.
"You could hear the dogs barking and the smell, it was bad," said the long time resident of this Nassau county village.
"I am surprised police didn't check that a long time ago."
Seventeen emaciated dogs were rescued from the home Wednesday, according to Rockville Centre police. Four other dogs and one cat were found dead.
One official called conditions in the Clinton Avenue home "grisly."
"There was a lot of debris, in addition to dog feces and urine throughout," said Rockville Centre police commissioner Chuck Gennario.
There was so much debris blocking the front door that police and Hempstead town animal control workers had to use a pay loader to push their way into the house.
"It was a disgusting situation," explained Gennario.
The animals belonged to an unidentified 62 year old supermarket cashier who suffers from psychiatric problems, added the police commissioner.
The woman had not shown up for work for several days, according to a source with knowledge of the case. The woman's co-workers called police, asking that they check up on her. That's when the horrific scene was discovered.
The woman, who lived alone, has been hospitalized, according to Rockville Centre police and is not expected to face criminal charges.
Her home has been condemned by the village's building department.
The dogs are now at the Hempstead animal shelter in Wantagh, being readied for adoption.
"We removed ten pounds of matted haire from these seventeen dogs. That's the condition they were in," said Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray.
The recovered dogs included 14 cocker spaniels, a papillon, a black Labrador mix and a golden retriever.
It's unclear when they will be available for adoption. If you are interested, call the Hempstead town shelter at 516-785-5220.
"I am sure these dogs will find new homes quickly," added Murray, who called on residents to "see something if you say something" about neglected animals.
Ironically, last year, animal advocates alleged neglect and poor living conditions at the very shelter these rescued dogs now call home.
Town officials denied those allegations.